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• John Adams
Message in Reply to the Senate
November 26, 1800

Address of the Senate to John Adams,
President of the United States.

The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SIR: Impressed with the important truth that the hearts of rulers and people are in the hand of the Almighty, the Senate of the United States most cordially join in your invocations for appropriate blessings upon the Government and people of this Union.

We meet you, sir, and the other branch of the National Legislature in the city which is honored by the name of our late hero and sage, the illustrious Washington, with sensations and emotions which exceed our power of description.

While we congratulate ourselves on the convention of the Legislature at the permanent seat of Government, and ardently hope that permanence and stability may be communicated as well to the Government itself as to its seat, our minds are irresistibly led to deplore the death of him who bore so honorable and efficient a part in the establishment of both. Great indeed would have been our gratification if his sum of earthly happiness had been completed by seeing the Government thus peaceably convened at this place; but we derive consolation from a belief that the moment in which we were destined to experience the loss we deplore was fixed by that Being whose counsels can not err, and from a hope that since in this seat of Government, which bears his name, his earthly remains will be deposited, the members of Congress, and all who inhabit the city, with these memorials before them, will retain his virtues in lively recollection, and make his patriotism, morals, and piety models for imitation. And permit us to add, sir, that it is not among the least of our consolations that you, who have been his companion and friend from the dawning of our national existence, and trained in the same school of exertion to effect our Independence, are still preserved by a gracious Providence in health and activity to exercise the functions of Chief Magistrate.

The question whether the local powers over the District of Columbia, vested by the Constitution in the Congress of the United States, shall be immediately exercised is of great importance, and in deliberating upon it we shall naturally be led to weigh the attending circumstances and every probable consequence of the measures which may be proposed.

The several subjects for legislative consideration contained in your speech to both Houses of Congress shall receive from the Senate all the attention which they can give, when contemplating those objects, both in respect to their national importance and the additional weight that is given them by your recommendation.

We deprecate with you, sir, all spirit of innovation from whatever quarter it may arise, which may impair the sacred bond that connects the different parts of this Empire, and we trust that, under the protection of Divine Providence the wisdom and virtue of the citizens of the United States will deliver our national compact unimpaired to a grateful posterity.

From past experience it is impossible for the Senate of the United States to doubt of your zealous cooperation with the Legislature in every effort to promote the general happiness and tranquillity of the Union.

Accept, sir, our warmest wishes for your health and happiness.

JOHN E. HOWARD,

President of the Senate pro tempore.

NOVEMBER 25, 1800.

Reply of the President.

CITY OF WASHINGTON, November 26, 1800.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Senate:

For this excellent address, so respectful to the memory of my illustrious predecessor, which I receive from the Senate of the United States at this time and in this place with peculiar satisfaction, I pray you to accept of my unfeigned acknowledgments. With you I ardently hope that permanence and stability will be communicated as well to the Government itself as to its beautiful and commodious seat. With you I deplore the death of that hero and sage who bore so honorable and efficient a part in the establishment of both. Great indeed would have been my gratification if his sum of earthly happiness had been completed by seeing the Government thus peaceably convened at this place, himself at its head; but while we submit to the decisions of Heaven, whose councils are inscrutable to us, we can not but hope that the members of Congress, the officers of Government, and all who inhabit the city or the country will retain his virtues in lively recollection and make his patriotism, morals, and piety models for imitation.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your assurance that the several subjects for legislative consideration recommended in my communication to both Houses shall receive from the Senate a deliberate and candid attention.

With you, gentlemen, I sincerely deprecate all spirit of innovation which may weaken the sacred bond that connects the different parts of this nation and Government, and with you I trust that under the protection of Divine Providence the wisdom and virtue of our citizens will deliver our national compact unimpaired to a free, prosperous, happy, and grateful posterity. To this end it is my fervent prayer that in this city the foundations of wisdom may be always opened and the streams of eloquence forever flow. Here may the youth of this extensive country forever look up without disappointment, not only to the monuments and memorials of the dead, but to the examples of the living, in the members of Congress and officers of Government, for finished models of all those virtues, graces, talents, and accomplishments which constitute the dignity of human nature and lay the only foundation for the prosperity or duration of empires.

JOHN ADAMS.

Citation: John Adams: "Message in Reply to the Senate", November 26, 1800. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65694.
 
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